Echoing a theme from his successful campaign, Tony Evers Monday called for “putting people first” after being sworn in as Wisconsin’s 46th governor.
The outgoing state schools superintendent reminded the crowd in the Capitol of the themes he campaigned on last fall, including fully funding public education, making healthcare affordable and protecting those with pre-existing health conditions.
But, he added, “We cannot fix these problems unless people come before politics.”
Evers offered no specifics on how elected officials could fix their political divide. But he said the “hard work” of bridging that gap begins: in “classrooms and playgrounds,” where kids learn to treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of where their parents were born; on campuses and in houses of worship, where people will find value in their differences; and with valuing all workers.
Finally, Evers added, it “begins in these marble halls,” adding elected officials have an obligation and allegiance “to the people of this state, not any political leader or party.”
“We must turn the page on the tired politics of the past, and we must lead by example,” Evers said. “It’s time to remake and repair our state and to reclaim our better history.”
Evers thanked his predecessor, Gov. Scott Walker, who was sitting on the stage. He also recounted being a kid who “grew up in Plymouth, met my wife in kindergarten, took her to junior prom, and went from scraping the mold off of cheese to teaching science to becoming state superintendent to now standing here before you.”
Still, he said the swearing-in was “bigger than me.” He urged those in attendance to focus on: 870,000 Wisconsin families he said are struggling to make ends meet; 2.4 million Wisconsinites who have a pre-existing condition; those losing their farms; going to school in classrooms with 30 other kids because public education hasn’t been fully funded; and seniors who can’t afford the cost of health care.
Evers bemoaned a society being “paralyzed by polarity” and “content with division.”
“We’ve gotten away from who we are and the values that make Wisconsin great — not Republican or Democratic values, but our Wisconsin values of kindness and respect, empathy and compassion, and integrity and civility,” Evers said.
Read more at Quorum Call.